Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: Dhiraj Singh Thakur, J. allowed a petition to direct the CBI to take charge of the present case.

The petitioner filed a Habeas Corpus Petition seeking appropriate direction to respondents to produce her son, who went missing in the custody of respondents. Petitioner also prayed for referring the investigation into the matter by the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or in the alternative to refer the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The petitioner’s son, Shakeel Ahmed, went missing on his way to Zairat at Kaliar Sharief in Roorkie, Uttrakhand under the custody of the respondents. The matter was investigated initially by the appropriate Police Station, as an FIR under Section 364 RPC was filed. The investigating officer recorded the statement of witnesses under Section 161 of CrPC and called the accused persons to the Police Station and interrogated them. However, no fruitful result was obtained pursuant to which, the investigating officer closed the case. The matter was again reopened by the Zonal Police Head Quarter and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed by the Senior Superintendent of Police. However, the SIT also failed to arrive at any conclusion and was clueless about the disappearance of the son of the petitioner.

The respondents contended that the matter if referred to Crime Branch, should also involve the territorial jurisdiction between the two States i.e. the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the State of Uttrakhand.

The High Court allowed the appeal and was of the view that since the investigation would involve the areas beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the State of J&K where the Crime Branch cannot have any jurisdiction, it would be appropriate to refer the matter for investigation to the CBI under Section 364 of RPC. The Court also held that “it cannot be a silent spectator to the disappearance of the son of the petitioner who needs to be recovered and the matter investigated at the earliest.”[Sabza Begum v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 666, decided on 08-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. appreciated the Delhi Police for the alacrity with which it reacted to the suggestions made by the High Court regarding online registrations of FIRs.

On 23-04-2019, a letter was received by the Court wherein the author of the letter stated that her daughter, who had been working as a maid, had gone missing. The letter was marked to the Delhi Police. Despite that, the FIR was registered only on 18-05-2019. Due to delay in lodging the FIR, the “golden hour” of the investigation was lost and in all probabilities, the important leads had dried up.

On 13-05-2019, while considering another petition, the Court had directed the Delhi Police to consider allowing online registration of FIRs by way of SMS, emails and WhatsApp. The suggestion was made as it was observed in a number of writ petitions filed by the family members of missing persons that either the FIRs had not been registered or had been registered belatedly. With online registration of FIRs, the human interface — which normally causes a delay in registration of FIR — would be obviated. On the present hearing, the Deputy Commissioner of police (Legal Cell) submitted a “Proposed Road Map for online reporting on Missing Persons through Delhi Police Web Portal and Mobile Application.” The Court appreciated the alacrity with which the Delhi Police has reacted to the suggestions made by it. It hoped that the time-frame mentioned in the road map shall be duly complied with.

This Court was of the view that at the police station level as well as at the district level, the investigation procedure followed by AHTU/Crime Branch should be replicated. For this purpose, not only the latest technology and training but also the general guidelines in the form of Standard Operating Procedure should be issued and followed at the ground level. The intent behind directing issuance of SOP/guidelines is not to control the discretion of the investigating officer, but to ensure that certain essential steps like flashing of message on wireless and placing the information of the missing person on the ZIPNET are taken in a time bound manner.

Directions were given to file fresh status report in regard to aforesaid developments within eight weeks. Further, a status report with regard to facts of the present petition was directed to be filed within 4 weeks. [Court on its own motion v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8807, decided on 30-05-2019]